So you are standing at the counter and the sales lady is telling you to get a cleanser (milk or cream or bar) and a toning lotion.  Mentally you sigh, thinking you are about to buy something you don’t really need or want.  She mentions something about the toning lotion regulating the pH of the skin in preparation for your moisturiser.  She's right, but this isn't the complete story.

Your skin naturally produces oils, and during the day the pollution in the atmosphere sticks to the oils (and don't forget how many times you have touched your face during that time, with your hands or cell phone.   Then there is your make up, and... you get the drift).  At the end of the day, all this grime needs to be thoroughly removed before you start to feed your skin with your moisturiser.

So, you cleanse, and rinse and feel good to go - right? Wrong...

There's a thin layer of the dirt and cleanser (remember that cleansers use oils too) that just can't be removed with plain old H2O, and that's where the toning lotion comes in.  Yes, it also balances the pH, but really, it's main job is to gently dissolve the last traces of cleanser.  That's why it's advisable to use the cleanser and toning lotion from the same range - then you are getting the most efficient solvent for the cleansing oils.

Skip the toning lotion and you risk putting the dirt back into your pores when you apply your moisturiser.

Why do we need a balanced pH? Well the skin needs to remain neutral, not too acidic and not too alkaline; either of which will dry and damage the skin, and can cause all sorts of problems.  Ideally you want to keep the skin’s pH at around 5.5 (on the slightly acidic side of neutral) so that harmful bacteria are less comfortable multiplying, and helpful bacteria (yes – we have those too) are not eliminated.

So, the next time you go out to buy your cleanser and moisturiser, don’t forget to add that crucial toning lotion to your shopping basket. Your skin will thank you for it!